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Three of the Most Important Digital Marketing Trends in 2020 That Can Help Your Small or Local Business Thrive

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Three of the Most Important Digital Marketing Trends in 2020 That Can Help Your Small or Local Business

Is 2020 the year your small business will have the most growth it has ever had? Planning a cohesive and effective marketing strategy can play an imperative role in making that happen, if you let it. While the idea of digital marketing can be overwhelming to a small business owner, you’d be surprised at just how accessible these tools are for you!

In the next year, we will see the rise of a few crucial digital marketing trends that can directly affect the growth of small businesses across the board when used correctly.

Don’t worry, there is no need to completely scrap what you’re already doing to market your business--these new trends will simply build on what you most likely already have in place.


1. High-quality content matters

Content marketing has been around for a while, but its main goal used to be to push out as much content as possible in order to increase SEO rank. In 2020, high-quality content will be more important than ever because of a substantial update to Google’s search algorithm. The update can influence your SEO rank because of Google’s goals to provide a more interactive and trustworthy search experience for the user.

This year, aim to publish more content that is engaging to read, in-depth, detailed, and interesting; something that can captivate an actual person reading the content. Since you’re probably already using content marketing, focusing more on high quality content should only enhance the strategy you have in place, and further capitalize on the sales opportunities it can bring you.

Not exactly Hemingway? That’s okay, content writers can be hired to provide more colorful and in-depth content that draw in potential clients.

 

2. Influencers will have even more of an influence

Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay. It has become one of the most influential marketing tools to date, and the best part is its availability to businesses of all sizes. The most notable new trend in relation to social media is the use of influencers to promote services and products. In recent years, influencers have used their following on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat to promote various goods and services that they (hopefully) use and love themselves.

Influencers now have the upper hand on the content that they choose to share; once upon a time, large companies could simply send a sample of their product in hopes that the influencer would review it for their followers. However, it has progressed into more of a business, with many of the larger-scale influencers naming their price for sponsored posts.

The increased expense has shifted small and mid-size business owners’ focus to “micro-influencers.” These are the influencers who have a smaller but still substantial following; they tend to have around 30,000 followers.

Seeking out a niche micro-influencer to help market your product and keeping up with the latest social media marketing strategies on your own feed can have a gigantic positive effect on your business.

 

3. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a real thing

We officially live in the future. Computers can predict what any given consumer will decide, based on what it has “learned” from the consumer’s actions online. Its effectiveness only increases with each new piece of information it is given.

With key capabilities like conversational AI and AI with Analysis Domination, Artificial Intelligence can predict many of our decisions as consumers. It is continuously collecting data that helps it make predictions. These predictions are based on factors like simple conversations we have, emotion, culture, trust, etc.

Integrating AI into your digital marketing strategy can be very beneficial to the growth of your company, even if you don’t have a large corporate presence. Your small or local business can benefit from this tool in various ways, like using chatbots for customer service, improving your email effectiveness, and enhancing your online ads. Since AI is still somewhat of a foreign idea to most business owners and non-experts, you can always hire a tech company who offers expert experience in AI services to help implement these strategies into your marketing and business strategies.

 

Make 2020 Your Year

Whether you decide to implement these trends into your digital marketing strategy or simply fine-tune the strategies that are already producing results for you, put digital marketing to work and watch your business soar.

 

 

 

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What are the global trends in IT and Software Outsourcing in 2020?

Wednesday, 08 January 2020

Outsourcing is more or lessabout going risk-free and in response getting a helping hand for the tasks your current teamdoesn’t haveexpertise in.If there were any gaps, theyare filled for the betterment of both the company and the third party or individual catering to those outsourcing needs. As Statista’s report suggests, outsourcing revenues increased in 2018 to $85.6 billionfrom a mere $45.6 billion back in 2000.

Undoubtedly, there was a time when the in-house workforce was considered the status quo. However, as IT and Software are making waves across the globe,more and more companies are pushing for outsourcing. To reiterate just how prominent outsourcing is becoming,the world’s largest mobile phone manufacturer, Samsung, is gearing up to outsource one-fifth of its production in 2020 to rival Chinese counterparts. This shows how the promising the year 2020, as well as the coming years, will be in terms of IT and software outsourcing.

What has skyrocketed the demand for outsourcing is companies having streamlined functionalities.This way, companies are still able to keep things confidentialwhile getting their work done. To highlight what’s in demand, we will share the details of trending IT outsourcing services.

2020 IT Outsourcing Services Trends - At a Glance

More People Driven – Less Money Driven

The common perception is outsourcing is meant to be a seamless semi-automated process which is cost-effective. But 2020 isn’t going to be about saving a few bucks;companies will be more focused onsearching for high-quality IT outsourcing services and paying them accordingly. Therefore, in response, these companies will rope in third parties that will equally suffer the risk in case substandard services are offered. To ensure the best outcome for the company, the outsourcing process will be more human-driven and the utmost responsibility will lie in the hands of the Talent Acquisition (TA) Manager. It will be up to the TA Managers to find the best talent.

More Specialized Third Parties for IT Outsourcing Services

The affiliation with only onethird party for outsourcing will no longer be the norm. The bigwig companies will look to work with the best options in aparticular niche. The previous model for outsourcing was a single third party company offering both technical and non-technical services. It was largely done to make the outsourcing process hassle-free andmeant relying on only one third party service to meet all needs.

Application Development and Maintenance

Having a website presence used to make a business look more legitimate, but now having a mobile or a desktop app is more of a sign to consumers that the business is credible. This has sky-rocketed the demand for an app for all kind of business owners. Being non-technical in this regard, most of them outsource this task and even once it has been created, they hire a third party for continuous support and maintenance.

Reporting and Audits

Companies believe in impartial audits and reports, as they can directly or indirectly help make their businessflourish. Though this process was previously availableto only the bigwig companies, from 2020 onward it will be trending for all the right reasons. A third party that has no stake in the company can conduct unbiased and impartial financial audits,which is why many top-notch companies get this outsourced.

Social Media

Even if you’re a small-time business owner, the more presence that you have across different mediums on the web, including that of social media portals,the more online help you will have to meet certain targets. Primarily, brand awareness is easily increased through social media. Moreover, one can even create a loyal audience and therefore gain customers through social media campaigns. Ad-targeting and engagements bridge the gap between the customer and the brand which is why it stands out as an integral part of the business. Therefore, social media outsourcing is on the rise largely because of the need to hire an expert in order to keep up with the social media presence.

AI taking in for Manual Processes

Bots and virtual agents are making this whole process flawless and cost-effective with the courtesy of Artificial Intelligence Robotic Process Automation (RPA). RPA aims to cut costs for both the company’s bottom line as well as costs for the workforce. Put simply,work which previously required 10 people nowonly requires 1-2 people with AI takingthe charge. This pushes companies to get third party AI tools for an entirely different experience.

 

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Faster Access Databases Performance Tips

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Every developer has their own coding style. Like some devs prefer to use docmd.RunSQL code, while others prefer to use db.Execute code. When I'm researching on best practices and procedures to be added into our VBA library collection, I stumbled upon a great paper explaining about Tips to Speed up Microsoft Access Databases Performance. This paper is honorably featured on Microsoft MSDN, and contained 100+ tips for faster Microsoft Access Databases, including:

  • Table Performance Tips

  • Linked Databases and Linked Tables

  • SQL Server and ODBC Performance Tips

  • Database Performance Tips

  • Query Performance Tips

  • Form Performance Tips

  • Report Performance Tips

  • Macros Tips

  • Access Module/VBA Performance Tips

  • Data Access Objects (DAO) Programming Tips

  • Jet Engine Tuning Tips

  • Access Startup Tips

  • Multiuser Performance Tips

  • Computer Performance Tips

  • Windows Performance Tips

  • Conclusion

  • Additional Resources from Microsoft

You can access the paper on FMS, inc site. Kudos for Luke Chung, President of FMS, and Dan Haught, Executive Vice President.

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Hard to Imagine...

Sunday, 15 September 2019

“From the dawn of civilization to 2003, five exabytes of data were created. The same amount was created in the last two days.”–Google CEO Eric Schmidt

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Data Retrieval Performance

Sunday, 15 September 2019

I recently had a situation where multiple IT associates stated they had "exhausted" all performance enhancement options and the users were just going to have to deal with the report taking 4-6 minutes to return their result. In this situation, just one result. Yes, you heard me right; the report wasn't a Data Warehouse analytical summation of millions of records, across complex filters and joins; but rather an Operation Data Store report where the users entered in 1 parameter in which the result should only return the data for that 1 record. Even worse, the parameter the users were providing was the main utmost parent in the whole model and even was a unique identifier in said table.

Sure, the report needed to pull information about this one parameter from multiple tables, around 20, but they were all PK / FK to the main driving table. I contended that there must be something wrong because even if there were 100 tables, as long as the users were giving us 1 record to search by, the result should return sub-second.

After a nice Friday evening of trouble-shooting the report, it was determined that the developer tried to use multiple sub-reports and chain the results from one to be used in the next. This is a fairly common practice among the big hitter reporting tools, but this was not working for one reason or another. In addition, another developer which had helped with some of the SQL statements had added a where condition that wasn't really needed to a huge table on a column that wasn't indexed. This in turn caused a full table scan and essentially killed the performance of the report.

To remedy the issue quickly, we changed each sub-report to just use the parameter that was entered by the user instead of trying to chain from the results of the previous report. The other where condition as removed and automatically... the report that was taking 4-6 minutes to run with "no way" to improve its performance was now returning in 2 seconds or less.

The real reason that I bring this up is to emphasize what a relational database does. By design, it breaks out the data into normalized structures. In most modes you will have many, many tables. You may have upwards of 100 or so reference tables. You may have many associative tables to break up the so-called many to many relationships. Regardless, if each of those tables are architected appropriately with PK's and enforced FK relationships, getting data out should be no problem.

Be careful to not let anyone in IT get away with saying "It just is what it is and can't be improved" because that is often not the case. There are very few cases in my career where I haven't been able to at least shave some amount of significant time off of performance hog queries.

Now, when we get into the Data Warehouse and more analytical number crunching, the second response times can get more challenging... but I will share my thoughts on that at a later time...

If you have any Reports that do not return you the data you expect in a timely manner, please let me have a look.

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Some of my favorite Data Quotes

Thursday, 31 January 2019

"In God we trust, all others must bring data." - W. Edwards Deming

"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." - Aldous Huxley

"If you torture the data long enough, it will confess." - Ronald Coase

"What gets measured, gets managed" - Peter Drucker

"The price of light is less than the cost of darkness." - Arthur C. Nielsen

"War is ninety percent information." - Napolean Bonaparte

"Without data, you are just another person with an opinion." - Andreas Schleicher

"There are lies, damned lies and statistics." - Mark Twain

"Errors using inadequate data are much less than using no data at all." - Charles Babbage

"Get your facts first then you can distort them as you please." - Mark Twain

"If we have data, let's look at data. If all we have are opinions, let's go with mine." James L. Barksdale

"The goal is to turn data into information, and information into insight." Carly Fiorina

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From the beginning...

Thursday, 31 January 2019

And then there was data... And lots of it. How you collect and
manage data determines your companies success and your competitive advantage.

What gets measured, gets managed

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The Art of Informatica and Data Integration

Thursday, 31 January 2019

Luckily, the designers at Informatica realized the complexity of some projects and the need for performance tuning and built the tool in such a way to allow us to utilize the Informatica built in functionality or to override some or all of the processing back to the database. The challenge arises when the developer has to decide how / where to create the transformations. It is never a simple answer of Strategy A is always the best way to do this task, or Strategy B always has faster performance for this sort of task. Rather it is an Art! In my opinion, an Art that takes many, many, years of honing your skills to know how to build the best mappings possible. Additionally, not just Informatica skills are needed as they are only 1 part of the equation. The other big skill is being distinguished in the source and target databases platforms. The developer that is hired to move data (the integration expert or ETL developer) must be distinguished at Informatica or your ETL tool of choice as well as your database platform. These two skills have to be used to perfectly balance ETL mappings allowing the database to do what it does best as well as the ETL Tool.

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Aggrandizement of MS Access

Thursday, 31 January 2019

A tool is needed to not only tie together data from a few different systems, but to add just that little extra functionality that none of the other apps have. It may have even started off as something that a Business Analyst built solely for her purpose but others caught wind so it was released into the wild. It is so well received by the business that they request a few enhancements as well as a little more functionality that would save them big dollars and automate some of their tasks. Before long, the business now has a mission-critical MS Access application that needs to be supported and production-alized by someone (IT?).
Fortunately, and contrary to what many will tell you, there are ways to make an MS Access application stable, and quite useful. As with anything, there is the right and wrong tool for each need, but used in the right context MS Access can be a win-win for the business as well as IT.

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6 "Data" Principles for All Businesses

Wednesday, 30 January 2019
  1. While it may be seam easy to inventory your physical assets, realize that data is also an asset that has significant value to your business. Treat it as such and manage data accordingly.
  2. Data must be accessible to the needed consumers. This includes day-to-day operations associates as well as the management team.
  3. Data must also be swiftly locatable and provide quick responses to questions asked by the users.
  4. Data must be standardized consistently throughout your company to provide a consistent set of answers to your users. A data dictionary should be readily available.
  5. While data must be readily available for the needed consumers, it must also be protected from unauthorized use. Remember from Principle 1 that data is an asset and must be protected appropriately.
  6. Data has to be governed, by a circular process. A strategy should be defined which provide the discipline needed for managing such a valuable company asset.

Please let us know if this resonates with you and you would be interested in a partnership to help define your Data Strategy. We would be glad to assist.

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Tips to stay in the 20% group!

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

It has been noted by Gartner that big IT projects specifically "Data Projects", have as high as an 80% failure rate. I have been involved in many big projects and have accumulated my own list of tips to stay in the 20% group.

  1. Get solid, real, requirements. I mean it. Solid, real, requirements. From the actual users / consumers. Do not make up your own requirements that you think they will want.
  2. Build, Test, and Deliver in small increments. This will keep the users happy and leave them wanting more and more. Don't try to boil the ocean. Under-promise and Over-deliver. Trying to do too much at once is overbearing and will lead to many problems.
  3. Build a detailed project plan for each delivery. A very detailed project plan. Hash out every gruesome detailed task that has to be completed and estimate how long each will take to accomplish. Actively manage and update the project plan that was created. Check off tasks as they are being worked and when completed. This allows you to get a look at the plan at any point and see how you are doing and adjust as necessary. Also, report back to the users and consumers on a frequent basis. Only EVER even mention a "completion date" once this detailed project plan is completed and all involved parties agree on the timelines. Once a completion date is communicated, it is very critical to keep that date.
  4. Be aware of scope creep. This directly is related to number 1. In my experience, in almost every occurrence of new scope being found can be tied back to detailed requirements not being vetted appropriately. Complete number 1 in a very detailed manor and you will not have very much scope creep.
  5. In coordination with the business, clearly define what "success" looks like and how you will measure success when your deliverable is met. (I.e. we should be able to search all customer orders for various attributes and return the data in a friendly formatted fashion.)
  6. Keep the users involved. Make them feel like they “own” the deliverable that you are working on. If they buy into the process and feel like they have a say, they will in turn feel invested and actively try to assist you to ensure the deliverable is met.
  7. Be respectful of the user’s time. Users of IT deliverables have their “day jobs”. This IT deliverable is often something that will help them or make their job easier, but in the mean time, they still have a job that has to be completed. Plan and coordinate their time appropriately in the project plan and don’t expect more.
  8. Test, Test, Test! Define a solid test strategy. Have a brain storming session with the whole team to determine things that should be tested. Write specific test cases for each scenario. Testing data-related projects is even more challenging because often the logic solely relies on the content of the data. This means that you can only test for scenarios in which you have data to satisfy. I could write a whole section on testing… maybe I will in the future. For this purpose, just remember to never underestimate the different testing that needs to be completed.

If you have an IT project starting soon in your small business, be aware of the tips above. If you would like assistance, please let us help!

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Freelancing Sites...

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Recently I have been exploring various Freelancing sites to seek out the very best clients who can benefit from my particular services the most. I have reviewed a few, and then I ran across a site called TopTal.com which seemed different. They feverishly promote that they only accept the top 3% of freelancers who apply.

This quickly caught my attention, mainly because I know I am in the top 3% of my field. This concept seems to outweigh the other sites which allow anyone who signs up to become a freelancer. Since there will be fewer freelancers on the site, I suspect that top companies would feel more at ease with hiring from there, while also paying competitive rates. To that end, I immediately decided that I wanted to join the Toptal Informatica Developers Community.

I'm not arguing that the other freelancing sites aren't a good idea from the average freelancer wishing to make some extra money, but for those who are completely serious and at the top of their field; TopTal seems like the more appropriate path. For any of my Technical readers who are interested, I recommend heading over to TopTal.com and having a look. For any of my client readers, rest assured that you are in good hands.

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